Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Cyber Dodge (PC Engine)

It's an odd title, Cyber Dodge, as though it's definitely a dodgeball game, the "Cyber" part isn't as apt. I guess it's meant to imply that it's a futuristic, cyberpunk kind of dodgeball game (and or some unknown reason, GameFAQs lists the name literally as "Cyberpunk Dodgeball", which sounds like the kind of re-naming the game might have got if it had had a westrn Turbografx-16 release. Except it didn't as far as I can tell, so I guess GameFAQs pulled that name out of the ether?

Rather than a specific cyberpunk theme, the theming in Cyber Dodge is a random mishmash of various sci-fi and fantasy archetypes. There's the protagonist team for single player mode, who are generic guys in futuristic american football armour, and their opponents include teams of gladiators, skeletons, aliens (sadly not Giger knock-offs, despite what their team logo would have you believe), robots, ninja, and long-bearded levitating wizards. Each team also has its own themed arena, and each arena has its own themed ball! For example, the skeleton team plays in a museum full of dinosaur bones, where they throw a skull around, while the ninja team makes its home in one of those Japanese gardens with the big rocks and meticulously raked sand, with a moss-covered spherical rock as their ball. It's a nice little touch.

But is the game any good? Kind of. As dodgeball games go, they're pretty much all the same, mechanically: you throw the ball at the other team, they throw it at you, with good timing you can catch a thrown ball, and there's also running and jumping too.  There's also the usual special power shots, unique to each team, though I've yet to figure out how to consistently pull any of them off. There is, however, one big flaw in Cyber Dodge: it's totally unbalanced. In single player mode, you fight all the opponent teams in the same order every time, and as well as getting better at playing dodgeball as you go through them, the later teams also have more health and do more damage. The problem with this is that it carries through to the free play modes. So no two teams are on equal footing, and the wizards team have a distinct and significant advantage over all the others, being the last team faced in single player mode.

So in summary, Cyber Dodge has inconsistent, nonsensical theming, it's brutally difficult in single player mode, and it's unfair to the degree of being totally pointless in two player mode. But it does look pretty nice! So make your own mind up whetheror not you want to play it. But remember, the PC Engine also has a Kunio-Kun dodgeball game, and a game based on the anime Honoo no Toukyuuji@ Dodge Danpei, and while I've yet to play either of them, it's a pretty safe bet to say that at least the Kuino game will be better than this one.

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